The Quest for Consonance: Theology and the Natural Sciences


April 2-4, 2017


What is the relationship between faith and reason, theology and philosophy, religion and science? Since the rise of contemporary philosophies of science in the 1960s, there has been a growing desire to contextualize standard discussions of theology and science through newly understood historical and philosophical methodologies. This desire has shown itself primarily in historical studies on Galileo, Augustine, Aquinas, and contemporary studies on cosmology, evolutionary biology, and particle physics. Such studies have led scholars to interact in novel ways and explore previously unknown horizons of discussion, leading to an unexpected level of interdisciplinarity. In this vein, the international interdisciplinary conference April 2–4, 2017, “The Quest for Consonance: Theology and the Natural Sciences,” represents a step forward in this movement towards more interactions between theology, philosophy, history, and science. Leading international scholars from all four disciplines will come together to “seek consonance” among the fields and among each other, using as a common touchpoint the idea that there is more that holds us together than breaks us apart. 


Quest For Consonance 1

Paul Allen, Concordia University
Francisco Ayala, University of California, Irvine
Stephen Barr, University of Delaware
Louis Caruana, SJ, Pontifical Gregorian University
Menachem Fisch, Tel Aviv University
Iris Fry, Technion–Israel Institute of Technology
Peter Harrison, University of Queensland
David Bentley Hart, University of Notre Dame
John Heilbron, University of California, Berkeley 
Tom McLeish, Durham University
Nancey Murphy, Fuller Theological Seminary
Michael Ruse, Florida State University
Jame Schaefer, Marquette University
Michael Shank, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Bas van Fraassen, Princeton University, Emeritus; San Francisco State University
Jennifer Wiseman, America Association for the Advancement of Science; NASA



The Full Registration package includes conference sessions, materials, meals, and evening receptions. Full Registration will close after the maximum number of participants is reached. The deadline for registration is Friday, March 17, 2017.

  • Full Registration – $125*
  • External Graduate Student Registration – $40
  • Notre Dame, Saint Mary's College, Holy Cross Faculty, Staff, Student Registration (no meals) – Gratis**

*External graduate students may purchase the "Full Registration" package at a reduced rate of $40.
**For those members of ND/SMC/HC only wishing to attend discrete sessions, registration is not necessary.

The public lectures each evening are free and open to the public.

All registered participants are responsible for their own travel, lodging, and transportation arrangements.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

16:00  Registration
17:15  Public Lecture – Bas van Fraassen, "Ernan McMullin's Epistemology and Nuanced Realism"
18:30  Reception

Monday, April 3, 2017

08:40  Welcome by the Vice President for Research, Robert J. Bernhard & Celia Deane-Drummond
08:45  Seminar 1: Cosmology and Creation (Chair – Andrew Pinsent)
               08:45 – 09:15  David Bentley Hart, "Creation, Causation, Contingency"
               09:15 – 09:45  Stephen Barr, "Current Cosmology and the Theology of Creation"
               09:45 – 10:15  Discussion
10:15 Break
10:30 Seminar 2: The Future of Galileo (Chair – Terry Ehrman, C.S.C.)
               10:30 – 11:00 John Heilbron, "Galileo: The Man and the Emblem"
               11:00 – 11:30 Michael Shank, "The Long Reach of the Galileo Affair: From Hypatia to Recent Times"
               11:30 – 12:00 Discussion
12:00 Lunch for Registered Guests
13:00 Seminar 3: Evolution and Theology (Chair – Celia Deane-Drummond)
              13:00 – 13:30 Francisco Ayala, "Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion"
              13:30 – 14:00 Iris Fry, "Consonance: The Case for the Origins of Life"
              14:00 – 14:30 Discussion
14:30 Break
14:45 Emerging Scholars Panel (Chair – Matthew Ashley)
              14:45 – 15:10 John Slattery, "The French Revolution and the Vatican's Anti-Evolutionary Stance"
              15:10 – 15:35 Chris Oldfield, "The Book of Nature and the Language of Mathematics" 
              15:35 – 16:00 Joanna Leidenhag, "Evolution and Theology beyond Emergence Theory" 
              16:00 – 16:25 Dylan Belton, "The Philosophy of the Organic and Its Contemporary Significance" 
16:30 Break
17:15 Public Lecture – Jennifer Wiseman, "New Discoveries in an Ancient Universe"
18:30 Reception

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

08:45   Seminar 4: Realism in Science & Theology (Chair – Brad Gregory)
               08:45 – 09:15 Nancey Murphy, "The Un-Realistic Realism Debates in Science and Theology"
               09:15 – 09:45 Menachem Fisch, "Rationality and Paradigm Change in Science – Lessons from Religion"
               09:45 – 10:15 Discussion
10:15 Break
10:30 Seminar 5: Challenging Theological Doctrines (Chair – M. Catherine Hilkert)
             10:30 – 11:00 Louis Caruana, "How Critical? How Realistic? Scope & Limits of the Scientific Engagement with Theology"
             11:00 – 11:30 Jame Schaefer, "The Power of God, the Empowered World, and Responsible Humans"
             11:30 – 12:00 Discussion
12:00 Lunch for Registered Guests
13:00 Seminar 6: Possibilities of Consonance (Chair – Tom Stapleford)
             13:00 – 13:30 Michael Ruse, "The Paradox of War: Darwinians and Christians in Conflict"
             13:30 – 14:00 Peter Harrison, "Is Consonance Always Preferable to Conflict?"
             14:00 – 14:30 Discussion
14:30 Break
14:45 Emerging Scholars Panel (Chair – John O'Callaghan)
             14:45 – 15:10 Amerigo Barzaghi, "An Augustinian Natural Theology for Science & Religion"
             15:10 – 15:35 Ross McCullough, "Supernatural Acts, Unnatural Acts, and Naturalistic Explanations"
             15:35 – 16:00 Michelle Marvin, "Responsible Resonance: Consonance of Content without Constraint of Mode"
             16:00 – 16:25 Mark Graves, "Using Science to Study Theology"
16:30 Break
17:15 Public Lecture – Paul Allen, "How to Renew Natural Theology"
              Respondent: Tom McLeish, Durham University
18:30 Closing Comments – Don Howard
18:45 Reception 

This event has been made possibly by support from the Templeton Religion Trust, John. J. Reilly Center, Nanovic Institute for European Studies, Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, Department of Theology, Department of Physics, and Department of Philosophy.